Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Noche de Rabanos - Night of the Radishes - Oaxaca

There is so much to write about this trip to Oaxaca that I decided that I need to break it up into segments with the first, obviously, needing to be the Night of the Radishes! It was so wonderful that I found myself giggling as I walked along and photographed each scene. At one point I choked up because I realized I had waited twenty years for this and I was HERE! It is pure, naive and whimsical folkart - No it isn't for sale - No it isn't eaten - it just IS - by the next morning you could not tell in the zocalo that any such thing had been held. Amazing. This first photo is a "Tree of Life" of radishes. Click on it to see it enlarged. If any of you have ever been in a Mexican mercado, I'm sure you have marveled at their displays of fruit and vegetables - they are merchandising geniuses. If we "eat with our eyes" as they say, then you can't ignore the displays. THAT is how the radish festival began - one vendor started carving in order to sell his radishes, another copied and outdid him and it GREW to this incredible feast for the eyes. If I remember correctly, it started about 80 years ago. They carve what they are familiar with, village scenes and festivals, farm scenes, and of course the Virgen of Guadalupe. There were three categories - all organic - radishes, dried flowers and corn husks. The next photo is a farm scene which is just so wonderful. . While we were walking along looking at this, they were "spritzing" the displays with a water bottle. That is how perishable these are.
The next photo was of teensy weensy star flowers and other dried flowers. Exquisite. There were several "virgens" but I so loved the gentleness of this one.
The corn husk displays were colored with food coloring (I presume), or they could have been colored with the bugs they use to dye the rugs - I actually don't really know............but they were huge displays and intricately detailed as well. Fiestas are so much a part of the Mexican life and so this one depicts a festival.
I loved all of it but I must say I loved the radishes the most. It seemed so surreal that they could take an edible food products and create so much...............I took over 200 photos, so for me to narrow this down to 4 was ridiculously hard. If you would like to see all of Oaxaca - the churches and museums, the artisans and mercados and the radish fetival, my friend Tom LaFaver has it ALL on Flickr. He and his wife Moira were my traveling buddies. This is the fourth folkart trip we have taken together and each one has been a blast. Go to It is worth taking the time to see Tom's photos which so richly depict all that we saw.................(note to me, GET A DIGITAL CAMERA!) Enjoy!

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